Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan asserted on Friday that steps taken by Turkey to normalize relations with Armenia have remained unanswered.
Akdogan made the comments during speech at the “International Conference on the Armenian Question: Myths and Realities,” organized by the New Turkey Center for Strategic Research in Ankara.
“They are the ones who always leave the table,” said Akdogan, referring to the Armenian government which insists on Turkey recognizing the 1915 events as an “Armenian Genocide.”
A portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire was relocated in 1915 during World War I, a conflict which claimed the lives of both Armenians and Turks.
Regarding the European Parliament, which decided to refer to the events as a “genocide,” Akdogan said, “Parliaments cannot write history and they cannot issue legal judgments.”
Turkey has called for the establishment of a joint commission of historians and the opening of both Armenia’s and Turkey’s archives in order to agree on a joint narrative on what happened during the relocation of Armenians in World War I.
“There was no normalization of relations with Armenia. The other side[Armenia] always had excuses,” added Akdogan.
The Ottoman Empire decided to relocate Armenian citizens in eastern Anatolia after they sided with the invading Russians and started to fight against the Empire.
Armenia claims that up to 1.5 million Armenians died during the relocation, while Turkey says the number of deaths was much smaller.
The head of the Turkish History Association, Refik Turan - who attended the conference - also said, “Turkey has sufficient documents on this issue, which are able to answer all the questions.”
“This issue should be analyzed scientifically by historians. It is not possible to change historical facts by abusing the domestic politics of the countries,” said Hasan Celal Guzel, head of the recently-launched center.